Ex-Quebec junior hockey players plead guilty to sex assault

FILE. Francis Black/Getty Images

Two former Quebec junior hockey players pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually assaulting a minor in June 2021 as their team celebrated a championship win.

Massimo Siciliano and Nicolas Daigle, both 21, pleaded guilty to sexual assault, while Daigle also pleaded guilty to two charges of filming and exhibiting a video of the act.

The pair were members of the Victoriaville Tigres in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the time of the assault. The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was 17 and an employee at a Quebec City-area hotel where the team was staying during the 2021 playoffs.

The assault occurred in the early hours of June 6, 2021, as the team celebrated at the hotel after winning the league championship.

Click to play video: 'Sports minister says Hockey Canada must do more after alleged sex assaults'
Sports minister says Hockey Canada must do more after alleged sex assaults

According to an agreed statement of facts read by prosecutor Michel Bérubé, the victim had befriended Daigle while the team was living at the hotel for about a month leading up to their President’s Trophy victory on June 5, 2021.

Story continues below advertisement

She had initially declined an invitation from team members to join their party and from Daigle himself to go up to his room, citing hotel policy. Later in the night, after she had left work, Daigle messaged her again and convinced her to return to the hotel.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

From the parking lot, the victim messaged Daigle, who said his friend — Siciliano — was in the room with him. She told him several times she would only come up if Daigle was alone.

However, when she arrived in the room, Siciliano, whom she did not know, was still there, and the victim said she felt trapped. She was sexually assaulted by the two men for about 40 minutes. During that time, Daigle filmed the woman without her knowledge.

Both Daigle and Siciliano acknowledged they were drunk and did not take reasonable measures to obtain the victim’s consent. They even had a conversation afterwards noting the victim had not enjoyed herself, the court heard.

Click to play video: 'MPs grill Hockey Canada execs over handling of sex abuse claims'
MPs grill Hockey Canada execs over handling of sex abuse claims

After the assault, Daigle went downstairs and showed the video of the assault to teammates and a coach in a conference room where the party was still going on. A team employee learned of the video and intervened, making Daigle delete it. The victim only learned of its existence the following day.

Story continues below advertisement

Outside the courtroom, Bérubé highlighted the courage and the resilience of the victim, who had to deal with the case and a pending trial for two years.

The pair were charged in October 2021 and their trial was scheduled to begin this week in front of Quebec court Judge Thomas Jacques. Last week, Jacques ruled videos found on the phones of the two men could be admitted as evidence. The contents of those videos remain under a court-ordered publication ban.

Bérubé said the victim was relieved by Wednesday’s news, but he noted the guilty pleas came at the last minute.

“By her courage, the complainant can inspire other victims to report,” Bérubé said.

The case will return to court on Oct. 20 to set a date for sentencing, and Bérubé told reporters he will likely seek jail time. Before declaring the pair guilty, Jacques reminded them he would not be bound by a joint sentencing recommendation, should there be one.

Click to play video: 'Hockey Canada grapples with history of misogyny at Calgary summit'
Hockey Canada grapples with history of misogyny at Calgary summit

The pleas come as hockey culture finds itself under the microscope over allegations of sexual assault and hazing.

Story continues below advertisement

Hockey Canada, the sport’s governing body, has been hit with heavy criticism after it became public that the organization settled a lawsuit with a woman alleging she was gang raped by members of the national men’s junior team at a gala in London, Ont., in 2018. The allegations have not been proven in court.

Meanwhile, Halifax Regional Police continue to investigate a historical sexual assault allegation involving members of Team Canada’s contingent at the 2003 World Junior Championship in that city.

Sponsored content